Freestyle Legend Park Smalley Joins Ski Hall of Fame
By Deb Olsen
When Park Smalley first came to Steamboat Springs in 1976, freestyle skiing was a renegade upstart, barely on the radar screen of the ski world. Today, freestylers are respected members of the international skiing community, in part, due to Park's tireless efforts to promote the sport, first as a competitor, then as a coach and television commentator, and finally as a consultant.
In recognition of Park's contributions, the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame nominated him in October to become the first member of its elite organization from the freestyle discipline of skiing.
In the 1970s, Park and two friends founded the Great Western Freestyle Camp, a summer program for young skiers. Park then founded a competitive freestyle program within the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in 1978 that boasts the largest enrollment of any freestyle team in the country in 2003.
In 1981, Park coached the U.S. Junior Freestyle Team, and he became the first coach of the U.S. Freestyle Team in 1983. The sport achieved demonstration status at the 1988 Calgary Games, and he coached the first U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team, which won two gold medals and one silver.
In 1990, Park stepped down from the U.S. Team and returned to Steamboat to devote time to his family: wife, Lisa; son, Tucker; and daughter, Sammi. With Park at the helm, Steamboat hosted its first freestyle World Cup in 1995. Steamboat named its World Cup venue the Park Smalley Freestyle Complex in 1999. The Howelsen Hill aerial facility is also named after him.
Though Park retired from coaching in 1996, he remains active as a consultant for the Steamboat team and as a color analyst for television coverage of the sport. He was a CBS commentator at the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Olympic Games. In his 25 years as a coach, Park has taught more than 3,000 students, many of whom have gone on to international fame.